The Independent's online editor has posted a short piece today to say that New Year's Eve is his least favourite evening of the year because it's no more than a drunken "booze-fest." He is quite obviously right about the pointless drinking aspect - after all, who would deny that New Year's Eve is, for many people, no more than an excuse to get as pissed as a newt and pick a fight with the wife/husband/guy next door before vomiting on someone's carpet and crashing out in the bathroom? But unlike him (her?) I like New Year's Eve very much.
Not because I'm going to sink 5 pints and three-quarters of a bottle of Jack Daniels - I don't need an excuse to drink and I do in fact drink alcohol every day, although I mostly avoid excesses these days - but because, on the contrary, I'm going to stay at home, alone, drink my few beers as usual, and think. Bliss on a stick.
What I like about New Year's Eve is that it is the perfect moment for me to remain far from the madding crowd and take stock of who I am and what I have done this year, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. It just seems natural to do that on this day.
The Good is that my first thought as a man of almost sixty is that I'm almost surprised to be alive to see this day to be honest, given the drug and other excesses of past years. Some of my fellow drinkers and drug users from the Seventies and Eighties are no longer around to read these words unfortunately, so I suppose I should consider myself lucky in a way.
It's also gratifying to know that I have not become cynical and blasé about people and life in general as the years have slipped by, although it could be fairly said that I'd have a good excuse for being very cynical indeed given some of the lousy hands life dealt me in the past. God, when I look at the 'Yours, Angry Pensioner From Tunbridge Wells' brigade I am filled with deep horror and I'm grateful that I am not like them and that nor shall I ever be.
It's been a good year for my professional life too. As a self-employed translator/interpreter/teacher in specialist fields I have finally built up a sizeable and faithful clientèle and no longer have to scrabble in the dirt and beg people to let me translate their latest Sony TV User Guide. I lead an intellectually fulfilling life and am glad about that. After all, concerning one's intellect - and as is the case for sex - if you don't use it you lose it.
Lastly in the 'Good' category, I have finally embraced the idea of getting older and can even say that I've never been as happy and confident in myself as I am now. It's taken some effort to get to this point and I can't actually explain how I managed it, but now I have there shall be no going back and I contemplate my future as an older person with optimism.
So much for the Good. Hmmm, the Bad. Where do I start. The big Bad concerns my continuing and stupidly stubborn à-la-Churchill refusal to give up drinking and smoking. I drink more than the 'safe' limit every day, and as the safe limit for cigarettes is 'none at all' I have obviously abjectly failed to make progress on this. It's very annoying and, even worse, my excuse - that I happen to enjoy both activities - is pathetic. I 'know' that they are detrimental to my health, even though I am not a major drinker and smoker, but yet I continue! Grrr...
Coupled to this is physical activity. I am probably fitter and have more energy than many people of my age, and I have remained slim too, but I have done less bike-riding this year than I did in 2011. Marks - 4/10. It seems that this is due in part to the fact that I spend more time on the Internet than I should and I must do something about that next year. Yup, more exercise and less alcohol, cigarettes and Internet is the way to go, so this MUST be worked on.
Another bad point is that although I have made big progress to curb an unfortunate tendency towards arrogance and condescension when discussing subjects like politics I still do too much of it. I have made some progress as I have managed to not participate in anything like as many political discussions as I did before, particularly if they veer into arguments, but still, things could improve. I mean, it's not as if I'm not aware of this failing. This bad habit also creeps into some of my blog entries here on politics unfortunately. I don't see it whilst writing, but only when I reread entries later, after I have posted them, although I do not change them because that would be dishonest. So, Fripouille Must Work Harder.
My almost criminally lazy approach to dealing with mail and personal admin is still a sticking point, as is my penchant for neglecting my finances. It's not as if I spend more than I earn - I don't finish the month in the red any more, like I used to - but maybe I should save more. Or maybe not. My jury's still out on this but....
Now the Ugly, and the good news here is that there is none. No serious spats with anyone I know and no intellectual or other forms of dishonesty vis-à-vis others either. Most of us have done some highly regrettable things in our lives, but the last few years have seen me avoid these pitfalls. Maybe that has to do with getting older too? Dunno, but let's hope next year is the same in this respect.
So there you have it. I shall be considering these and other aspects of my life in 2012 as the day and evening go by, and I shall be alone. New Year's Eve represents a chance for me to catch my breath and detach myself from the world a little in order to see what I did wrong and hope I can do something about it next year. I'll be on the Internet with a couple of beers in the fridge and hey, maybe even a bottle of champagne.
Finally, may I wish one and all a very Happy New Year and that you have a wonderful evening, whatever you choose to do with it. I'll leave you with a song. It isn't a New Year's Eve song, I know, but still, it somehow seems to fit the occasion for me......